Marco Simoncelli said he was delighted to finally achieve his maiden MotoGP podium finish after coming home third at the Czech Grand Prix.
The Gresini Honda rider was a top three contender all afternoon at Brno, passing champion Jorge Lorenzo at half distance and hanging onto the tailpipe of Andrea Dovizioso's works bike until the final few laps.
Simoncelli, who has had two pole positions so far in 2011 but has often thrown away a good result by crashing, could not hide his joy afterward. "It's fantastic," he said. "This year I did a great step. I was a lot faster compared to last year but the results unfortunately in the races were very similar until now. I had a lot of opportunities every time, but for some different t reason I lose it.
The 24-year-old Italian, who had not stood on a podium of any sort since finishing second in the 250cc Malaysian Grand Prix of 2009, said he had not expected his breakthrough to come at Brno after only qualifying fifth.
"After the qualifying I was not so satisfied because my bike wasn't very well," he added. "But my feeling was we did some good adjustments [in warm-up] and my bike works properly. So to do it today... I am so happy."
Simoncelli's result moved him into eighth place in the championship ahead of Colin Edwards and his Gresini teammate Hiroshi Aoyama.